Good News For Single Ladies

Two recent articles, one published on (In Defense of the Defensive Single Girl Essay by Katy Waldman) and another published at The Atlantic (One Theory Of Marriage and Kids: ‘Very Cute In the Abstract’ by Emma Green), mention some interesting research about marital satisfaction. The Atlantic article quotes Amherst psychology professor Catherine A. Sanderson who explains that married men are, quite simply, happier than their single male peers. On the other hand, married women’s happiness fluctuates based on the quality of their marriages: Women who are happily married are happier than their single female peers, while women who are unhappily married are less happy than their single female peers. 

Though I haven’t read the original study (The Atlantic‘s link to the study required a password), I have heard similar statistics before. This raises some important questions about marriage, but it’s also important news for single women.

And these statistics are exactly why this blog is not just about finding any guy. It’s about finding the right guy. This blog is not about finding the perfect guy – it’s about finding the perfect guy for you. The objective is to be head-over-heels and healthy, to be SMITTEN AND SMART about it. Ladies, your happiness doesn’t depend on marriage. Sure, it can be improved by marriage — but only by the right marriage.

Coming up: First things, first. This week, we’ll write more about how to make sure you don’t wind up with the wrong guy.


The Premise: First, Be Your Best You

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth restating: The first step to a happy, healthy relationship is a happy, healthy you. Before you can find your best relationship, you need to be your best you.

You don’t need to be perfect – remember, no one is perfect – but you should strive to the best of your ability to be the very best “you” possible. Find out what your personal best is, and live that life – for yourself and for your next relationship.

And here’s why: If you skip this step, you may end up with the wrong guy. You might end up with the guy who saves you, the guy who helps you become something better – but not the guy who complements your personal best. Maybe, if you’re lucky, those two guys are the same person. The vast majority of the time, they are not. Don’t be fooled: Perhaps a man can temporarily help you accept yourself, but it’s unlikely that a man can help you permanently accept yourself.

By all means, you should search for someone who clicks with you and your individual traits and characteristics. (For example, you should seek out someone who expresses love in the ways you hear/interpret it; that is, if you love praise, he loves to compliment you; if you love token gifts of appreciation, he loves to give them; and vice versa, of course). To become your personal best is not to become perfect, and you should still seek out someone with whom you are uniquely compatible.

However, the list of traits you want to find in a partner is presumably long enough. Ultimately, it’s better not to add “someone who knows how to help me accept myself” to that list. You are capable of doing that work on your own.

Here’s a telling question: Would you want to be in a relationship with yourself? If the answer is YES, then you’ve finished your first assignment. If the answer is NO, then here is your first assignment: Be the person you love and find attractive. Or, to take a different approach: Love the person you already are. Until that answer is YES, you’re sending out the wrong energy into the world. Spend some time thinking about why you wouldn’t want to date yourself. Be honest. You know yourself better than anyone else.

But wait – if answering “no” is the product of a confidence or self-esteem issue, perhaps you need to focus on confidence and self-esteem building exercises.

It’s time to become your best you. As English novelist George Eliot* once said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

How can you become the best version of yourself? Becoming the best version of yourself comes down to finding happiness as an individual. 

Unhappiness is a catch-22. If you’re unhappy alone, potential suitors are less likely to be drawn to you. Happiness, on the other hand, is like having your cake and eating it, too: The happier you are, the more confidence and positive energy you exude. The more confidence and positive energy you exude, the more attractive you are to prospective men.

Three first steps toward becoming your best you –

1. HEALTH: Lead a fit and active life.


Men are attracted to healthy women. If you’re not eating healthy and exercising, start now – for yourself and your next relationship.

You like healthy men, don’t you? Be a healthy woman. When you’re sharing your life with someone, your health not only affects you, it affects your partner.

The benefits of a healthy lifestyle – physical, mental, emotional – are too great to list here. But rest assured, they will extend to your relationship. People who exercise are happier. Happier people are more enjoyable to be around. Many women find that when they look and feel great, they are friendlier, more outgoing, and more confident.

The first step to your best “you” is making healthy choices. And these choices are not limited to physical health. Your mental and emotional health count, too. So pick up a book. Spend time with friends. Keep a journal. Be healthy. Be happy.

P.S. When it comes to diet and exercise, we support the Wellness & Equality model, which you can read more about here. Stop counting calories, start reading ingredients, and nourish your body and mind with natural, healthy meals.

2. HOBBIES: Be passionate about something besides finding a man. 

To Be Interesting

Find hobbies. What gives you pleasure? If the answer is love/dating/relationships/men, then you have some soul-searching to do. Change that answer pronto, honey.

Are you interested in volunteering? Find a local charitable organization to become involved with. Are you athletic? Join a league. Do you like to read? Start a book club. Do you like cooking? Invite friends over for a weekly dinner when you try out new recipes.

Don’t judge yourself – anything goes. To be interesting, you must simply be interested in the world. Look around you. What excites you? Make it part of your life.

3. SELF-LOVE: Practice self-love every single day. 


Do you ever say negative things about yourself to yourself? As women, we often say more awful things about ourselves than we do about anyone else. Stop with the negative talk! You are beautiful, inside and out. You are seeking a loving relationship because you are a loving, lovely person, so start with yourself. At SMITTEN & SMART, we’re big fans of Gala Darling’s Radical Self-Love Project. So take a deep breath, stand up straight (what your mother said about good posture is true!), and go for a walk outdoors — the beautiful world out there is waiting for you!

*For the record, George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans – a woman who was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.

Love Stories: The New York Times Modern Love


The New York Times Modern Love column has published some of my favorite writing about love. The column, which appears weekly on Sundays, is not limited to romantic love; it explores all forms of affection, from romantic to familial to platonic. As a collection, Modern Love leaves no stone unturned: passion and pleasure, heartbreak and healing, lust and loss.

I think, in the pursuit of love, it is important to be surrounded by all forms of that magical feeling. Let’s not have tunnel vision about a thing so varied and beautiful. Therefore, SMITTEN AND SMART highly recommends The New York Times‘ Modern Love. You can access the full archive of columns here:

Click here to access the full archive of Modern Love columns at The New York Times. 


P.S. Do you have a story for Modern Love? Each week, the column is written by a different writer. In fact, Modern Love is open to anyone and welcomes unsolicited submissions. You can send submissions to Submissions should be both attached as a word document and copy-and-pasted in the body of the email, and should be between 1800-2000 words.

P.P.S. Are you a college student? Learn about the Modern Love College Essay Contest here.

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Why Am I Writing This Blog?


I am your average twenty-something female who has been trying to make sense of men, dating, and relationships since the turn of the millennium. I have lived on the West Coast, the East Coast, and in the South. I have dated men from both coasts and everywhere in between. I have dated several men seriously. One of those relationships lasted about two years. The rest of those relationships lasted less than six months. I have felt, at times, that I was living a real-life romance movie, complete with bouquets of flowers, butterflies-in-the-stomach, and giddiness. I have been dumped. I have had my heart broken. I have fallen in love and then realized that the person I loved was not the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I have ended relationships.

I don’t claim to be different from any other woman out there who wants to find love.

So why am I writing a blog? The answer is this: I’m happy.

For the most part, guys treat me the way I want them to, and when they don’t, I’m comfortable taking action to change that. If you can say this too – that you’re truly happy with and satisfied by your romantic life, that men treat you as you want them to – then you probably don’t need this blog.

But I know so many women don’t feel that way. So many women are not happy, are not being treated as they would like to be treated – whatever that may be: cared for, wined and dined, cherished, loved – and they don’t know why. They have questions about men, about dating, about how to succeed in modern love. It’s a different ballgame from the one our parents played. Our drugs our stronger; our love is more complicated – at least, it sometimes seems that way.

And yet, even in this complicated turn-of-the-century world, I find men comfortingly predictable – sometimes in the most wonderful of ways, and sometimes disappointingly so. I love men; I respect them; I believe they are the complement to women and that we are the complement to men (that is, if you’re heterosexual; I fully support homosexual relationships, though I have no personal experience with them).

At the end of the day, I’m happy. I want you to be happy, too. I want you to meet – and marry, if you choose – the perfect guy for you. I want you to be swept off your feet. I want you to be head-over-heels – and happyand healthy about it. I want you to be smitten – and smart about it.

If you’re unhappy, and you’re already married, there’s still hope! Check out my blog Millennial Matrimony.

If you’re unhappy, and you’re single… the world is still yours! Women just like you have already married the wrong guy. Take comfort: your future is open. Mr. Right is out there. SMITTEN AND SMART is committed to helping you find him.

***Update: I wrote this About page in October of 2009. A few months later, in 2010, I met my husband, and we married in 2012. I still enjoy writing about dating and how to find your soulmate, but you can read my musings on marriage (and how to enjoy the gift of marital love!) over at Millennial Matrimony.***